I was invited to appear on a [Dutch] TV program to talk about the relationship between decluttering and being happy. Just before we began filming, one of the editors taking part in the program introduced me to a third editor. “This is Astrid, who writes that piece about decluttering.” “Ah,” responded Editor no. 2. He knew all about minimalism, you see. In fact, he even pointed out that all he ever had on him when he went out was a pen and his smartphone. And then he pointed to my bag, and asked: “Uh, are you sure you know what you’re talking about. You know, when it comes to all that ‘decluttering’?”
Yup. Me and my bag. I’m preeeetty well known for it. It’s true – and I put my hands up to it – I lug a huge bag around with me every day. If you were to drop me on a Swiss mountaintop and leave me there for a week with that bag, I’m certain I could easily survive my stay. I mean: I’d pull out an apple, dig about for my pocket knife, keep myself entertained with my e-reader, and cater to every other need with my paracetamol, sunglasses, scarf, battery charger, water bottle… ah well, you get the picture.
Anyway, Editor no. 3’s question did indeed hit a nerve. Am I really, truly a declutterer? Am I letting things slip? Wasn’t I secretly a little pleased last week when my son broke the lamp and I could run off to the store to get a new one? And haven’t I just spent the whole week really REALLY wanting to buy some stuff? Just a small, silly thing; something that’s on trend at the moment that would give my living room a bit of a boost? Even my eyes are conspiring against me by noticing quotes on the Internet, such as: Clutter Is The New Clean. A notion that I suddenly find rather nice. I also noticed (via Instagram) that American declutter-guru Tammy Strobel, who I have always admired, has even moved from her tiny house back to an ordinary grown-ups’ house. Something that felt a bit like betrayal, I have to say.
So, it’s time to call on some reinforcements to keep the spirits up. Which isn’t too crazy an idea, after 47 weeks, right? After all, ex-smokers also suffer a dip from time to time. What I always find really helpful are the One Minute Tip videos by Fay Wolf, which you can find on apartmenttherapy.com. It’s a great site to surf from your couch in the evenings. There, they call a small house a ‘Studio’, and you can have a good old nose around the interiors of houses belonging to both declutterers and collectors. Fay once wrote music for Grey’s Anatomy, is an organizer, and a bit of an American Marie Kondo. Her book is called A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks and, with her, you’re allowed to be a bit messy and mucky: she’s not that strict. Which is good, seeing as – right now – I’m finding it easier to be Grimy Guitar Girl than Perfect Marie Kondo. And it seems that I’m not the only one, as in the US, Fay’s book is, after that of Marie’s, one of the most purchased books on decluttering. Fay loves plaid blouses and lives in a house that isn’t pristine perfect, just like a real person. And I’m sure she’d let me keep hold of my special, messy bag.
If you want to see one of Fay’s movies, here’s just one to watch: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/videos/TEpX6UmH
Astrid, together with Irene, is the founder of Flow Magazine. She lives with her partner and two children. Each Tuesday, she writes about the sense—and nonsense—of decluttering.
“Week 47 – A Dip”